Why Do Intelligent People Constantly Doubt Themselves? – How to tackle Imposter Syndrome.
Imagine that it is the first day of your new job and you’re expected to bring your skills to the table. However, there you are, wracked by insecurities… What if they see through you? What if you only think that you know what you’re doing, but actually don’t? You convince yourself that this feeling will eventually go away once you get comfortable with the job, but a few months later, that familiar, nagging doubt still sits in your head.
This feeling has a name–Imposter Syndrome.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
A famous quote by Charles Bukowski observes that, while stupid people are full of confidence, the intelligent ones are full of doubt. This, in a nutshell, is Imposter Syndrome.
Despite their many achievements and accolades, people experiencing this syndrome stick to the strong belief that they are not intelligent. In fact, they are convinced that they have been able to fool anyone who thinks otherwise, and are therefore afraid of being exposed as a fraud or an impostor, once the others recognize their supposed incompetence.
They constantly question their abilities and consider themselves inadequate, even though they have objectively been proven to be capable and competent. They attribute their success not to their own abilities, but to external factors, such as timing or luck. That’s why they often reject praise or recognition, and repeatedly doubt if they truly deserve what they receive or earn.
How can your mange your Imposter Syndrome?
Having to deal with Impostor Syndrome can be overwhelming and exhausting, but remember these key things:
- You earned your spot– There were no mistakes in recruitment. You were selected for the job because people thought you were the best person for it and that you would do good work.
- Relieve stress– Make time to do things that make you happy. Take cooking lessons, find a good gym, take walks in parks, watch your favourite TV shows, and meet up with your favourite people. Do these activities without feeling any guilt. You deserve the time off!
- Set healthy expectations – Realize that perfection is not a realistic expectation—for anyone. Set healthy expectations for yourself and focus on meeting them, instead of chasing some unattainable idea of perfection.
- Internalize accomplishments– Instead of beating yourself up about the few things you failed to achieve, internalize the accomplishments and give yourself due credit. Find a way to own your achievements when you feel anxious about being “found out”. For example, you could use tangible elements like meaningful letters of recommendation or awards as reminders of success.
- Failure does not define you– Approach challenges with a growth mindset and realize that failure is a natural part of the learning process. Without failure, there is no space for improvement. Although internalizing this message can be difficult, recognizing the importance of failure can be effective when combating the symptoms of Imposter Syndrome.
- Be kind to yourself– In the face of failure, we often become our own harshest critics. It is very important to be kind to yourself, utilize daily affirmations and accept that mistakes happen to everyone.
- Everyone feels the same way– Although you might think that everyone else around you belong here, realize that most people in a similar situation probably feel the same way. However, you can only find this out by talking to others, particularly those with similar interests, backgrounds and goals. Create a safe place to share your feelings and fears, so that together, you can determine which ones are legitimate and which ones don’t deserve the space you’re giving them in your head.
To sum up, believe in yourself and do your work with all your heart. However, when mistakes inevitably happen, take accountability and be kind to yourself. Take ownership for the things you can control, and let go of the things you can’t!